Biden ignored foreign policy in his State of the Union address

“While you’re suffering the consequences of their failure, the Biden administration seems more interested in fantasizing than the hard realities Americans face every day,” Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders charged. GOP rebuttal To President Joe Biden Union address of the state Tuesday night. Clearly prescriptive, it’s a line that might work if Biden’s speech didn’t focus overwhelmingly on economic issues that directly affect that “hard reality.”

The main issue Biden ignored was, predictably, foreign policy. Although the US State Department A central responsibility During the presidency, Biden devoted just a few moments of the 72-minute speech to updating the American people on our diplomacy, alliances and military interventions. But what he said—and, equally, what he refused to mention—was revealing, sketching a foreign policy that is reckless on some issues, relatively restrained on others, and utterly uninterested in any real solution to America’s chronic military entanglements. Middle East.


Much of Biden’s brief discussion of the war in Ukraine was an accounting of high-value (liberty, sovereignty, democracy, etc.) principles. There was no policy precision, no rationale for what Washington did and did not do to defend Ukraine against Russian aggression.

But one line is fine Attracted attention: America “will be with you as long as it takes,” Biden told Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, who was a guest in the audience.

as long as it takes. For months it has been clear that the United States is involved in Ukraine For the long haul, but the language here is more perfect than most administration pronunciations. And that raises a big question worth answering: What exactly does this promise mean?

Even after talking about democracy, it felt good. But aren’t there any circumstances under which US-Ukraine relations would change? What if the interests of the US and Ukraine differ? What if Washington negotiates a peace deal that Moscow accepts but Kyiv rejects? Prevents this from becoming another “forever war” like Biden Condemned? This, more than trivia about Ukrainian courage, is “State of the Union facts” that should be included in a State of the Union speech.


Turning from Russia to China, Biden struck a note of comparative restraint. Although the Republican Party Foreign policy flows, hostility toward China is one point on which the GOP seems able to agree. Biden’s “refusal to stand up to our most powerful adversary, China, is dangerous and unacceptable,” Sanders charged in the single most profound sentence of his foreign policy remarks, which managed to surpass even Biden’s brevity for lack of meaningful content.

But considered outside the Republican frame of unrelenting hostility toward Beijing, Biden’s China comments were the most reasonable part of his foreign policy department. ImportantlyHe refused A turn to Pure opposition: “I have clarified in my private conversations, as has happened to many [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping]That we want competition, not conflict,” Biden said. “I am committed to working with China where we can advance American interests and benefit the world.”

That said, Biden linked things up with competition and cooperation when talking about US military buildup in the Indo-Pacific region, and whether it’s a deterrent or a threat is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. Beijing, of course, would see the US military’s actions as threatening Return to the Philippines This month. as BBC headlines As observed, this return gives our military “a complete arc around China”—and Beijing, of course, has no comparable ring of military bases around the United States.

Greater Middle East

It is perhaps expected that Biden did not mention the US war in Afghanistan, which his administration ended at the 20-year mark in 2021 with the complete withdrawal of American forces inside the Afghan border. But he failed to mention, aside from a brief allusion to an Iraq war veteran ongoing The US military is involved Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere in Africa and the greater Middle East.

None of these countries are currently conducting large-scale US combat operations. Technically, the war in Iraq is over, and there are about 2,500 American forces only doing Advice-and-assistance work. Technically, we are not supporting Offensive operations by the Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen’s civil war. Technically, We are not at war Syria, Somalia and Other African countries Where dozens to hundreds of US troops are conducting counter-terrorism operations on the ground from the sky.

But those associations are still significant. They still put U.S. forces in harm’s way, harm local civilians, create blowback and expose us to the unnecessary risk of conflict—with Russia and Iran, which are also meddling in Syria.

Biden described the United States as “a nation that embraces stability over chaos,” and Sanders mockingly asserted that before Biden took office, the GOP leadership “kept a world stable and at peace.” Casting Washington as a force for stability is quite demanding given the past two decades of US military intervention and all the unintended consequences that have resulted. Maybe it’s a reserved claim. Maybe US foreign policy is basically on the right track. But Biden sure didn’t make that case Tuesday night.